Tom Hooper Wins Directors Guild of America Top Honors for 'The King's Speech'

Not as much a stunner, but it's definitely an upset win as last year's winner Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) awarded Tom Hooper the top prize at tonight's 63rd Annual Directors Guild of America Awards for his work on The King's Speech. Hooper beat out the predicted front-runner David Fincher (The Social Network) along with fellow nominees Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), Christopher Nolan (Inception) and David O. Russell (The Fighter).

How did David Fincher take the news? "New York Times" columnist Melena Ryzik posted to Twitter saying, "David Fincher split the second after Tom Hooper's name was announced."

This news comes on the heels of The King's Speech racking up 12 Oscar nominations this past Tuesday and Hooper's win at the DGA tonight has pretty much swung all award season momentum its way. Should the film take home the Screen Actors Guild Best Ensemble award tomorrow night I have a pretty good feeling everyone will be joining me in predicting The King's Speech as the Best Picture front-runner.

But what about that Best Director Oscar? At this point I have The King's Speech winning Best Picture, but still have Fincher taking Best Director. Is that a mistake also? Are the tides shifting to that great a degree?

As far as the significance of the DGA Award goes, only six times since the DGA Awards began in 1948 has the winner not gone on to win Best Director at the Oscars. The last time the winner differed was in 2002 when the DGA awarded Rob Marshall (Chicago) and the Oscar went to Roman Polanski (The Pianist).

So Hooper's win obviously works in his Oscar favor and that, by relation works in the film's favor for Best Picture as well. In 63 out of 82 years the Best Director winner has gone on to see the film they directed win Best Picture. The last time there was a split was in 2006 when Ang Lee won Best Director for Brokeback Mountain and Crash stunned us all by winning Best Picture. Before that, it was the previously mentioned Chicago and The Pianist split.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't ready to switch my Oscar Best Director prediction from Fincher to Hooper right about now... What do you think?

Additionally, Charles Ferguson won the award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentaries for his work on Inside Job, the surefire front-runner for the Best Documentary (Feature) at the Oscars. Then again, as Guy Lodge of notes on Twitter, "In 20 years, the DGA and the Academy have agreed on a documentary winner just twice." Does this give added life to Exit Through the Gift Shop?

Ryzik quoted Ferguson accepting his award saying, "It's a pretty ballsy, out-there movie, it didn't make me too many friends in the investment banking community."

The complete list of the winners is directly below:


  • Tom Hooper, The King's Speech (The Weinstein Co.)


  • Mick Jackson, "Temple Grandin" (HBO)


  • Martin Scorsese, "Boardwalk Empire" (HBO)


  • Michael Spiller, "Modern Family" (ABC)


  • Charles Ferguson, Inside job (Representational Pictures, Sony Pictures Classics)


  • Glenn Weiss, 64th Annual Tony Awards (CBS)


  • Larry Carpenter, "One Life to Live," "Episode #10,687"


  • Eytan Keller, "The Next Iron Chef," "Episode #301" (Food Network)


  • Stacy Wall (Imperial Woodpecker)
    "Rise," Nike; "Really?," Microsoft; "Slim Chin & D Rose," Adidas; "Handshake," Nike


  • Eric Bross, The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (Nickelodeon)
  • Will Holston

    I sort of got spoiled by the last few years of Oscars. Scorsese, Coens, Boyle, Bigelow ... Oh well. Guess it had to go back to normal some time.

  • Rayzr

    :O Hooper did a wonderful job with The King's Speech and thus I am not angry he won or anything... however, I still would have preferred Fincher won. Its difficult for me to explain why, but The Social Network is, IMHO, the better film. Fincher never fails to amaze. :/

  • yan m

    WTF, really over Nolan and Fincher, I guess we can the race over. The king's speech is winning everything

  • Colin

    Say what you will about TSN, but as to how he could win over any of the other nominees (sans O. Russel) is beyond me.

  • samir

    Very well deserved win by Martin Scorsese by the way, any Scorsese fan should check out that series and especially that pilot episode which is amazing.

  • Ian

    Unbelievable. I said the other day I could name at least ten (or more) films with better direction this year than The King's Speech, and I wasn't kidding. Every Best Picture nominee save The Kids and maybe Toy Story, The Town, Shutter Island, The Ghost Writer...that's ten. I'd even throw personal favorites The American and Kick-Ass in there.

    Now the question is just how many Oscars will The King's Speech win? When I wondered on Tuesday if it could win eleven, or even twelve, I was mostly kidding. I'm not kidding now. Honestly I'd say it's the favorite in seven categories now, with the exceptions being cinematography, editing, sound mixing, and the two supporting categories. But honestly I could see it winning those first three. That just leaves supporting, which it would have to win one of to tie the record and both to get that twelfth and essentially be declared the greatest movie of all time by the Academy. And I still don't see Geoffrey Rush winning, if only because it would be a purely "riding the coattails" win, because Bale overwhelmingly deserves the award. Even Kate Winslet and Gloria Stuart weren't able to ride Titanic's coattails to wins, and that was in a very weak year as I recall. Carter could win in a split vote scenario (say if enough votes go between Leo, Adams, and Steinfeld that she rises to the top), or she could become the favorite by winning the SAG. So I guess I'll say I think it wins seven for sure, has a great chance at ten, and the record-tying eleven is a possibility. We'll know more after the SAGs, but if Carter and Rush both win somehow, I'll say the record-breaking twelve is on the table. And that to me would go down as probably the greatest blunder in their history.

    • samir

      I thought THe King's Speech was very well directed. The close ups were great, really highlighted the acting performances, and I really liked the way he framed the images. Every image in that movie is composed perfectly. I don't think it was the best of the year, but it was incredibly good.

  • Ethan

    I think Hooper did a good job with the King's Speech but it was not outstanding! With a weaker cast this movie could have been incredibly boring (not matter how unique the story was).

    To me Fincher and Aronofsky deserved to be recognized more. Their films were a lot more unique and better constructed, both engaged with people in a more creative way - which is a scene of a good director.

  • Ethan

    Sign* not scene lol

  • bill

    id retract that unanimous bore article now and call it a unanimous disapointment

  • Winchester

    As much as I personally loved The King's Speech as a film I'm not entirely sure I could say that in terms of the direction itself it was necessarily the best directed of the whole year.

    But then it's also not badly directed either.

    If it's a sign the momentum is moving away from TSN then it really depends on how one feels about The King's Speech. Folks will either be pleased or get pissed. I still have no particular desire to see The Social Network so I'm never going to be able to comment on it prior to the night anyway.

    I wouldn't be upset if TKS won Best Picture personally, even though that tends to go hand in hand with Best Director. But then I could also say that I thought Aronofsky's direction on Black Swan was much more interesting than Hooper's on TKS.

    I wonder if this might be a potential split year?

  • Cory

    How is this even a debate anymore? Oscar night just became officially boring. All I need to finally put the nail in the coffin is for Benning to somehow miraculously beat Portman at the SAG's tonight and I can official scratch Oscar '11 off my list.

    Speech is sweeping the Oscars. It'll get at least 9 Oscars. We call all just move along to next year, now.

  • Carson Dyle

    What absolute bullcrap. The fact that the HFPA show more sense than the actual industry itself is both sad and telling.

  • VMarsFTW9574

    As much as I loved The King's Speech, there is no way Tom Hooper deserved that award. Again, I really loved The King's Speech, but in my opinion The Social Network is a much better film and is more deserving of the awards that The King's Speech has been winning.

  • Alex G

    Why is nobody giving Aronofsky any credit? In my opinion, his direction for Black Swan was better than that of David Fincher and Tom Hooper. All you need to see to know this is the "transformation" scene as Nina does her solo on opening night. It's so beautifully filmed and put together. I did think that Tom Hooper did a very good job directing The King's Speech, but it should have been David Fincher or Darren Aronofsky.

  • Cory

    Hooper had no business winning over Nolan, let alone Fincher and Aronofsky.

  • Nick

    The hell.

  • Liathach

    Hooper has won for how his movie made people feel, not just for what it looks like.

  • Cory

    Which is another way of saying "safe."

    Look, it's a fine film but it's not Inception, Black Swan, the Social Network, or the Fighter. And those films had just as much if not more emotion to them than the King's Speech.

  • maja

    Wow, I think this is quite a shock and if Kings Speech does win the Oscar it will be one hell of a turnaround when TSN was winning every award before.

    As for the direction, I don't agree that Hooper's King Speech is the best directed film of the year, for me that award should go to Aronofsky for Black Swan which is the best directed film i have seen in the last couple of years.

    I do prefer Social Network as a film, but I wouldn't mind seeing King Speech at all just for an Oscar surprise which hasn't happened in a good few years.

    • Nick

      Except it won't be a surprise after this.

      • maja

        True, but it would be a great story of a comeback which hasn't happened very often in the last several years.

  • criterion10

    I just woke up and read this and am literally about to throw my computer out of the window...The King's Speech was a GREAT movie but it should NOT win best picture, which I'm starting to think that it will...

  • Todd

    Instead Of Bashing the kings speech as being the non deserving film lets congratulate it on its steady rise and 12 nominations at the oscars.

  • Oscar Smarty

    I still think Fincher will win.

  • Geri

    At last - we finally have a horse race for best picture. Now if The Fighter wins the SAG ensemble award it will be really exciting. Having said that, I'm surprised David Fincher didn't win the DGA award. He took a marvelous script that depicted a visually boring landscape and made it compelling. He also took a bunch of average-ability actors and made them into Academy-Award hopefuls. However as far as the best picture goes, I still think The Social Network could easily have been an HBO film (albeit with the best writing ever) and that is what will kill it at the Oscars.

    • Colin

      How long are you gonna keep beating that fucking horse? "Aw it was do boring man it was just a bunch of talking, why wasn't it on tv or something" You could make the same meat headed argument for King's Speech The Fighter, hell any other film could be on television.

      @Brad-Would you write a follow up piece on how this race is a "bore" cause it does seems that way now.

  • John

    The Academy can't risk not looking cool...Social Network will win Best Picture, but Hooper may win Best Director.

    • Nick

      If anything it will be the other way around.

      • ricky

        i wouldn't be so sure... i could see social network winning best picture because of the voting process

  • ricky

    before this award was announced this was my opinion on the directing nominees:
    1. aronofsky
    2. fincher
    3. nolan
    4. hooper
    5. russell

    As many are saying, I did enjoy the kings speech. However, I thought it was GOOD. I did not see it groundbreaking in any way, and after walking out I saw it as a showcase for collin firth more than anything. i thought it would be 2010's crazy heart or la vie en rose. Even if the kings speech is now the front runner in 8 or 9 categories, I don't think it deserves them. No movie this year stood out as THE BEST BY FAR. the closet in terms of cultural impact and critical reception would either be the social network, inception, or toy story 3. to award the oscar to a film not many have seen is alienating your viewing population for a film that even art house critics wouldn't call the best of the year.

    i am not saying the academy should choose their winners based on what will make the audience happy, but how did great movies also beloved by audiences like rocky, jaws, and titanic have their ability to win awards taken away? the snubbing of nolan was an atrocity, and if the kings speech takes best picture and director from the social network, IMO it will be just as disappointing.

    i still have hope that this will cause backlash, and that this doesn't signal an oscar sweep. i don't think anyone will remember the kings speech 10 years from now, honestly. it does nothing that hasn't been done before. i would much rather have had a boring oscar race with a more deserving film sweeping the board. this just teaches us all to be careful what we wish for...

    • ricky

      PS: I am not saying the kings speech doesnt deserve any awards, just that it does not deserve a complete sweep.

  • Liathach

    Does anyone know what the voting system is for the DGA? Is it first past the post or some kind of transferable vote where a compromise candidate emerges?

  • goavs

    The King's Speech is overrated. The Social Network is still the best film this year.

  • Jack

    I like how a week ago you were saying the awards this year is all an ambiguous bore...

    Maybe you should have been a little more patient before blogging your immediate thoughts...